Ex-IRGC leader sparks controversy over Tehran and al Qaeda ties
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Statements by the leader of Iran’s Ansar-e Hezbollah organization on training armed radical groups, including al-Qaeda in Bosnia under cover from the Iranian Red Crescent, have sparked widespread controversy in Tehran.
The Red Crescent announced Tuesday it will sue Said Qassemi for his remarks, according to Iranian media.
Ansar-e Hezbollah is classified as a hardline group formed mainly of IRGC leaders from the Iran-Iraq war.
In a circulated recording of an interview with Qassemi by an e-newspaper, the leader noted that British-Iranian journalist Christiane Amanpour was the first to reveal the Iranian forces’ task.
He also criticized “close ties” between Amanpour and Iranian governments, referring to CNN interviews with Iranian presidents.
Qassemi went further and revealed Iran’s relationship with al-Qaeda since the 1990s.
“We were with al-Qaeda members. They were trained by us, and we have formed military units with different militants in the world,” he said.
His statements were supported by remarks made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Fox News about Tehran’s relations with al-Qaeda, few hours after adding the IRGC to the terror list.